Saskatchewan Roughriders (2015: 3-15 SU, 5-12-1 ATS, 12-6 O/U)
Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2015. They finished a dismal 3-15 which included a season-ending injury to top quarterback Darian Durant and the midseason dismissal of head coach Corey Chamblin who was two years removed from a Grey Cup title. In comes another former Grey Cup champion (2015), head coach Chris Jones. The hiring was one of the league’s most significant offseason moves as Jones will not only serve as head coach but also defensive coordinator, General Manager, and VP of Football Operations. Jones, a slick talking southerner from Tennessee, has been the architect of numerous top defensive teams in the CFL. In his first stint as head coach in Edmonton, he took a bad Eskimos team and in two shorts seasons won the Grey Cup. Montreal won the Grey Cup in 2002 when he was their defensive line coach. Calgary won the Grey Cup in 2008 with Jones as DC. And Toronto did the same in 2012. I’m almost willing to blindly accept that Jones in time will make this a better football team. The question is how quickly does Saskatchewan improve?
Jones immediately revamped the roster by letting veterans receivers Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf, defensive end John Chick, and cornerback Macho Harris all walk. He brought in several players from last year’s championship Edmonton team including prospective starters WR Shamawd Chambers, OL Andrew Jones and CB Otha Foster plus ST specialist and WR Kendial Lawrence. The team will by default be better offensively just from having Durant healthy and back on the field. The receiver corps has some new faces on it and running backs Curtis Steele and Matt Walter are not an overly impressive duo on paper. But overall, the offense should at least be more stable and productive just by having Durant back -- and four of five starting o-linemen. Last year, the OL led the CFL in rushing yards, rushing yards per game and yards per rush but also allowed a league-worst 64 sacks. There are still holes to fill with several players retiring including S Tyron Brackenridge, LB Shea Emry and DT Tearrius George. The good news is that Jones brought in a pair of immediate impact players with the additions of defensive linemen Shawn Lemon and Justin Capicciotti. The secondary is also totally revamped and could take time to develop.
The Eskimos went 26-10 SU, 23-13 ATS under Jones. That shouldn’t be lost on anyone as this guy simply knows what it takes to win. Saskatchewan will have some bumps in the road but don’t be surprised if this team peaks late season and challenges for not only a playoff spot but possible a West Division title.
Be a part of Canadian resident Ian Cameron's 2016 CFL campaign. Action gets underway late June and runs through late November. Ian has been a consistent producer in the CFL with 55% winners since joining Sportsmemo in 2012.